ABC News
has a story about one man’s quest to get 600 million people to jump at
the same time on July 20 as a way to prevent global warming. Not until
the fourth paragraph does the story indicate that the man is not a
scientist as the lead indicates, but “a live performer, filmmaker, DJ
and photographer.” The story is goofy enough without the need for three
paragraphs of false impressions at the start.

But this is becoming more common, and not just at AP. Communications consultant Ann Wylie
suggests writing news stories, even hard news, with a feature-style
. She cites a Readership Institute study that found people
will read more of a communication, read it more completely, and read it
more often if it avoids the inverted pyramid. The feature increases
reader satisfaction, is easier to read, and is viewed as “more honest,
fun, neighborly, intelligent, in the know, and in touch with the values
of its readers.”

“News Analysis” has been a disservice to readers,
allowing editors to try to shape opinions on the front page. The ABC
News story shows the problem latent in feature writing–misdirection.
It’s bad enough when traditional news stories bury the lead. Too many
news stories already redirect the information with inappropriate
adjectives and adverbs. Give writers the ability to make clever stories
and we’ll never get the facts.